Constipation. It happens to too many of us way too often. And a surprising cause of it is your multivitamin.
The definition of constipation is having less than three bowel movements a week. Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. An unbalanced diet, dehydration, inactivity, and stress are just a few causes. Your multivitamin could also be the culprit. And a big reason is synthetic vitamins. Many vitamins on the market today are full of synthetic ingredients, dyes, fillers, and artificial flavorings. How our bodies absorb minerals and vitamins from whole food sources is very different than how it is absorbed from synthetic sources.
Constipation Causes: What’s Wrong With My Multivitamin?
Synthetic iron, calcium, and vitamin D can cause an imbalance in our gut resulting in constipation. Iron, calcium, and vitamin D are among the biggest culprits.
There are three types of iron: iron from plants, iron from animals, and synthetic iron. Each one is absorbed and processed in the body differently. Organic iron (from plants and animals) is easily absorbed and processed; with iron from meat being the most easily absorbed. Synthetic iron can cause iron toxicity and constipation. Forms of synthetic iron include:
- Ferrous citrate
- Ferrous gluconate
- Ferrous fumarate
- Ferrous peptonate
- Ferrous sulfate
- Carbonyl iron
- Ferrous anything
Iron helps transports oxygen throughout the body and is an important component of hemoglobin (found in red blood cells). Organic sources of iron include:
- Liver – I take these liver pills from grass-fed cattle. Liver contains a highly usable form of iron. While pregnant and breastfeeding, I take 50% more than the suggested dose.
- Spinach, Swiss chard, and kale
- Oysters, mussels, and clams
- Squash and pumpkin seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Blackstrap molasses
- Red meat
The most common forms of calcium in supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Both may cause constipation when not absorbed properly. Calcium carbonate is sourced from shells of marine organisms, snails, eggshells, and limestone. Calcium carbonate interferes with your natural production of stomach acid, making it difficult to digest food, resulting in constipation. Calcium citrate is often synthetically manufactured. These forms of calcium, along with other synthetic forms, can leave calcium deposits that our bodies cannot process.
In addition to using a usable source of calcium, we also need magnesium and vitamin D to properly absorb it. Without magnesium and vitamin D, calcium will either be unused or cause constipation.
We need calcium to maintain bone health. Some sources of highly usable calcium are:
- Raw calcium supplement from algae sources with vitamin D and magnesium (I like this brand)
- Raw milk
- Spinach and kale
- Fish including sardines, mackerel, trout, and salmon
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. We require dietary fat to process it. A low fat diet can result in too much vitamin D stored in the body, which can result in constipation. In addition, we need magnesium to activate the enzymes to process vitamin D and maximize absorption. Often what is thought to be an overdose of vitamin D is actually a magnesium deficiency.
Some great sources of vitamin D are:
- Natural sunlight
- Fish oil – I like fermented cod liver oil (find it here and read about it here) and krill oil
- Vitamin D3 Serum
How To Get Constipation Relief
- Avoid synthetic vitamins
- Drink plenty of water
- Take your probiotics and/or eat fermented foods
- Probiotics are good bacteria and are essential for gut health. Read more about them here. My family consumes homemade kefir and kombucha.
- It’s good to rotate your probiotic supplements so you get different strands. My current favorites are:
- Oil pulling is a gentle detox that involves swishing oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes and spitting it out. One of it’s benefits is relieving constipation.
- It’s estimated that 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. One side effect of magnesium deficiency is constipation. I personally like this powdered supplement. A topical oil is also available.
- Essential oils can support a healthy digestive system. I am only referring to pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. These oils include:
- My favorite healthy fats:
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